Istanbul Food Tour - Top 10 Suggestions
Introduction to Istanbul's Food Culture Istanbul, a city where East meets West, offers a culinary adventure like no other. Its food culture is steeped in history, and every dish tells a story. Join us on a journey through the top 10 must-try dishes in Istanbul.
1. Kebabs and Shawarmas
Recommended Restaurant: Dürümzade
Location: Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Directions: Take the Taksim Square metro station and walk down Istiklal Avenue. Dürümzade is located on the left side of the street.
Description: Kebabs and Shawarmas in Istanbul are typically made with tender, marinated meat (often lamb or chicken) that's grilled to perfection and served in a flatbread with fresh vegetables, yogurt, and flavorful sauces.
Why it's a Must-Try: Istanbul's kebabs and shawarmas are famous for their succulent meat and the blend of aromatic spices. The combination of textures and flavors makes it a delightful street food experience.
2. Baklava and Turkish Delight
Recommended Shop: Karaköy Güllüoğlu
Location: Rıhtım Cad. Katlı Otopark Altı No:3, Karaköy, Istanbul
Directions: You can reach Karaköy by taking a tram and then walk to Güllüoğlu.
Description: Baklava is a sweet pastry made of layers of thin dough filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Turkish delight, or "lokum," is a chewy, sweet confection flavored with various ingredients like rosewater, pistachio, or pomegranate.
Why they're Must-Try: Baklava offers a heavenly mix of flaky pastry, crunchy nuts, and sweet syrup. Turkish delight comes in a variety of flavors and is a delightful treat for those with a sweet tooth.
3. Meze and Seafood
Recommended Restaurant: Balıkçı Sabahattin
Location: Seyit Hasan Kuyu Sokak No:1, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Directions: It's conveniently located within walking distance from the Sultanahmet tram stop.
Description: Meze refers to a selection of small, flavorful dishes that can include items like grilled octopus, stuffed grape leaves, and various spreads like hummus and tzatziki. Istanbul's seafood dishes often feature fresh catches from the Bosphorus and Mediterranean Sea.
Why they're Must-Try: Meze offers a diverse range of tastes and textures, perfect for sharing and savoring. Istanbul's seafood is known for its freshness and the way it captures the essence of the sea
4. Pide and Lahmacun
Recommended Restaurant: Ciya Sofrası
Location: Güneşlibahçe Sokak No:43, Kadıköy, Istanbul
Directions: Take a ferry from Eminönü to Kadıköy and then proceed to walk to Ciya Sofrası.
Description: Pide is a boat-shaped flatbread topped with various ingredients like minced meat, vegetables, and cheese. Lahmacun, often called "Turkish pizza," is a thin dough topped with a flavorful mixture of minced meat, vegetables, and spices.
Why they're Must-Try: Pide and lahmacun are delicious street food staples, offering a perfect blend of crispy crust and savory toppings. They are a taste of Turkish comfort food.
5. Manti and Dolma
Recommended Restaurant: Fıccın
Location: Nevizade Sk. No:24, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Directions: Find it in the lively Nevizade Street, just off Istiklal Avenue.
Description: Manti are small dumplings filled with spiced meat or vegetables, typically served with yogurt and a drizzle of garlic-infused butter. Dolma refers to stuffed vegetables, often featuring vine leaves or bell peppers filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and spices.
Why they're Must-Try: Manti and dolma showcase the art of Turkish stuffing. The flavors are complex, and the combination of creamy yogurt and butter with manti is divine.
6. Börek and Simit
Recommended Shop: Simit Sarayı
Locations: Multiple branches across Istanbul, including Sultanahmet, Taksim, and Kadıköy.
Directions: Locate the nearest Simit Sarayı branch in your vicinity for delicious börek and simit.
Description: Börek is a pastry filled with ingredients like cheese, spinach, or minced meat, often wrapped in layers of thin dough. Simit is a circular, sesame-crusted bread resembling a bagel.
Why they're Must-Try: Börek offers a delightful blend of crispy pastry and savory fillings. Simit, sometimes called the "Turkish bagel," is perfect for a quick snack on the go.
7. Fish Wrap
Recommended Place: Sokak Lezzeti Tarihi Balık Dürümcü Mehmet Usta
Location: Karaköy, Istanbul (Near Karaköy Güllüoğlu)
Directions: After indulging in baklava and Turkish delight at Karaköy Güllüoğlu, take a short walk to Balık Dürüm Mehmet Usta for a mouthwatering fish wrap. Karaköy is known for its excellent fish sandwiches.
Description: The fish wrap in Istanbul typically features freshly grilled or fried fish, served in a flatbread with fresh vegetables and a variety of condiments.
Why it's a Must-Try: Istanbul's fish sandwiches are a beloved street food, offering a taste of the sea in a convenient and delicious form. The fish is often perfectly cooked, and the flavors are exquisite.
8. Iskender Kebab
Recommended Restaurant: İskenderoğlu
Location: Çobançeşme Mahallesi, Atatürk Cad. No:125, Bakırköy, Istanbul
Directions: Reach Bakırköy by taking a taxi or using public transportation.
Description: Iskender Kebab consists of thinly sliced, grilled meat (usually lamb or beef) served over pieces of pita bread, topped with a tomato-based sauce and yogurt.
Why it's a Must-Try: Iskender Kebab is a hearty and flavorful dish that captures the essence of Turkish cuisine. The combination of tender meat, tangy sauce, and creamy yogurt is a culinary delight.
Recommended Stall: Karadeniz Kokoreç
Location: Istiklal Avenue, Beyoğlu, Istanbul (Various stalls)
Directions: Look for one of the Karadeniz Kokoreç stalls along Istiklal Avenue.
Description: Kokoreç is a dish made from seasoned and grilled lamb or goat intestines, typically served in a sandwich or as a wrap with spices and condiments.
Why it's a Must-Try: Kokoreç is a unique and flavorful street food option for adventurous eaters. The spices and grilling process infuse the dish with rich flavors.
10. Salep and Turkish Ice Cream
Recommended Café: Hafız Mustafa 1864
Location: Yerebatan Cad. No:47/A, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Directions: It's conveniently located near the Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet.
Description: Salep is a warm, milky drink made from the powdered root of wild orchids, often flavored with cinnamon. Turkish ice cream, or "dondurma," is known for its chewy and elastic texture.
Why they're Must-Try: Salep provides a comforting and aromatic beverage experience, especially in colder months. Turkish ice cream is not only delicious but also entertaining, as vendors often perform tricks while serving it.
Enjoy your culinary journey in Istanbul!